The Bedlington Terrier is an alert watchdog, champion cuddler, and easygoing companion. With appropriate socialization, the Bedlington is a delight to have around. He's got energy to spare, so he should have plenty of opportunities for work and play. Agility, coursing, and advanced tricks are perfect ways to keep the Bedlington busy in body and mind. Don't let his lamb-like appearance fool you—he's a terrier, and as such may have a stubborn side. Patience and a sense of humor go a long way with this little comedian. Grooming a Bedlington is an undertaking, so expect to spend a lot of time with a brush or clippers in hand.
The Bedlington Terrier was previously referred to as the Rothbury Terrier or Rothbury's Lamb, and Bedlington is a common nickname for the breed.
The Bedlington's coat is a hard, crisp-textured, single coat that is considered 'linty,' and may be blue, sandy, or liver in color. Though no dog truly possesses zero risk of causing a reaction in an allergic human, this breed is considered hypoallergenic.
Average Height: 15-17.5 inches
Average Weight: 17-23 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Bedlington Terrier should appear graceful and lithe, with a gentle expression. His weight should be proportionate to his height. Alert, energetic, and speedy, Bedlingtons were built to work, which is apparent in their silhouette and structure. Their elegance manifests above all other qualities. The narrow head should have no stop, and must appear round on top, with the roundness exaggerated by an ample topknot. The triangular ears are rounded and hang to the cheek, and the distinctive, low-set tail is shaped like a scimitar. Bedlingtons are muscular, with a deep chest, but should appear sleek, with a defined tuck-up. The gait should be light and springy. – AKC Breed Standards
The Bedlington Terrier is named for Bedlington, England, where the breed developed and was originally called the Rothbury Terrier. They were often used in pit fighting, a common dog sport in the 19th century. The tenacious temperament and natural hunting ability made these terriers a top choice as vermin hunters, and they'd tackle badgers and otters without hesitation. One Bedlington is said to have performed his vermin-hunting duties even at 14 years old—toothless and blind but as hardworking as ever.
The first dogs called 'Bedlington Terrier' were born in 1825, and the graceful dog's popularity grew enough to sustain breeding programs..
Bedlingtons appeared in the show ring in 1870, the Bedlington Terrier Club was established in 1875; the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1886.
AKC Breed Category
The loyal and quiet Bedlington Terrier is a friendly companion who appreciates the company of family. Bedlingtons often show off for family, and their clownish nature is sure to earn laughs. They're intelligent and eager to please, but may display the stubbornness common to terriers. They're courageous, energetic, and quick, but happy to live the life of a house dog.
Are Bedlington Terriers Good with Kids? Though the Bedlington is tolerant of—or even playful with—older children, they may not put up with the roughhousing, accidental missteps, or rambunctiousness that come with smaller children.
Are Bedlington Terriers Good with Other Pets? With socialization and training, Bedlington Terriers may do well with other dogs, but the breed is often territorial and may pick fights to assert dominance. They may learn to live with cats but will likely chase small animals such as rats, mice, and hamsters.
The Bedlington Terrier is an impressive watchdog and will alert you to suspicious visitors, but will offer polite greetings to guests. They're not guard dogs, but may attempt to defend the home from intruders anyway.
Bedlingtons have plenty of energy to join you for a walk, jog, or hike, but are happy to curl up at home if there's no adventure on the day's agenda.
- Bedlington Terriers may be territorial with other dogs.
- This breed isn't an ideal match for small children, as Bedlingtons do not tolerate rough treatment.
- Maintaining a show coat is time consuming and expensive, but pets may sport a puppy cut for easier grooming.
- Bedlingtons can become timid without proper socialization.
- Harsh correction or treatment will cause this sensitive breed to withdraw—or react negatively.
- Positive reinforcement is the best approach.
- Bedlington Terriers may dig—providing enough exercise can help curb the behavior.
The cushy indoor life is the Bedlington's preference. The Bedlington Terrier is likely to claim the best seat in the house, and makes an easygoing indoor companion. They're not often loud and they don't take up much space, so Bedlingtons are well-suited to apartment living.
Though the Bedlington Terrier appreciates treks outdoors with his people, the breed is not suited for full-time outdoor living. Bedlingtons must be supervised outdoors, as they are likely to wander or chase small animals.
Bedlington Terriers need at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, either in a fenced yard or on leash. A couple of walks each day and a longer adventure at least once a week will suffice.
Bedlingtons have plenty of terrier energy and a high level of endurance.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Bedlington Terriers may enjoy running up to three miles, but they prefer sprinting or jogging to long stretches of running.
- Hiking Miles: A Bedlington in good health may enjoy tagging along on a half-day's hike. They are likely to chase small animals, so hiking on leash is recommended.
The general recommendation for how much high-quality dry dog food to feed an average weight Bedlington Terrier is 1 to 1½ cups per day, split between two meals.
While the Bedlington Terrier does not guard his food more than other breeds, children should never be allowed to touch or remove food while any dog is eating.
Most Bedlington Terriers can stay home alone for four to six hours per day, but they may become destructive without enough exercise or attention, and some may suffer from separation anxiety. Crate training is recommended to prevent destructive behaviors in a Bedlington.
Health and Grooming
A Bedlington requires daily brushing to prevent matting, along with regular trips to the groomer to achieve the distinctive Bedlington hairstyle. Pets may be kept in an allover puppy clip, but dogs bound for the show ring require a specific—and time-consuming—style. Use gentle shampoo for monthly baths, and rinse well to prevent skin irritation. Tear stains may be wiped with a warm, damp cloth—excessive staining may require a trip to the vet.
Trimming nails regularly will help prevent painful splitting, cracking, or breaking a nail. Terriers may be sensitive about having their paws touched, so get him used to it as a puppy.
Common Health Issues
Though a generally healthy breed, the Bedlington Terrier may be prone to breed-specific health concerns, such as:
- Copper toxicosis
- Renal dysplasia
- Skin allergies
- Patellar luxation
- Eye concerns
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Bedlington Terrier by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
With positive reinforcement, Bedlington Terriers tend to learn basic obedience quickly. They may have the typical terrier stubborn streak, but they're one of the easier-to-manage terrier types. The breed is sensitive to harsh correction and may become timid—or snappy—in response. Socialization and basic manners should be the first steps with a Bedlington puppy.
The Bedlington Terrier is an intelligent, energetic breed. Problem-solving activities are good ways to engage Bedlingtons mentally and physically. Advanced tricks and obedience training will keep the Bedlington's mind working, and activities like agility or AKC Fast CAT (Coursing Ability Test) will burn plenty of energy. A Bedlington with a job to do is a happy dog. Well-socialized Bedlington Terriers may make good therapy dogs.
Sporting Dog Training
Though not suitable as a modern sporting dog, Bedlington Terriers have been used historically to hunt small game. They often perform well in barn hunt, lure coursing, or Earthdog trials.
Bedlington Terriers have a lamb-like appearance, and were originally called 'Rothbury's Lambs.'
Bedlington Terriers may inherit a copper storage disorder called copper toxicosis. Dogs with this condition can't metabolize dietary copper, which causes a buildup of the metal in the liver and leads to illness or death. This is an autosomal recessive inherited disease—two copies of the gene are necessary to produce affected offspring, but dogs with only one copy of the gene may still pass the condition to offspring if bred with a dog who also carries a copy of the gene. There is a DNA test available to determine status. Dogs who test affected or carrier should not be used in breeding.
Copper toxicosis treatment may include medication, diet modifications or restrictions, and regular blood tests to monitor the condition.